Houston mayor says stopping Astroworld Fest would have made things worse

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Tuesday, November 9, 2021
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Four days removed from the Astroworld festival disaster, Mayor Sylvester Turner weighed in on the investigation as well as the city vs. county responsibility in terms of the deadly crowd surge.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner was on hand to talk about his annual holiday event Tuesday morning, but it was questions about Friday's deadly Astroworld Festival that he fielded the most.

In the days since the tragedy that killed eight people, many have wanted to know why the festival, headlined by rapper and Missouri City native Travis Scott, wasn't immediately stopped after it was determined people were in distress.

Nearly 40 minutes after Houston emergency officials declared they were responding to a "mass casualty incident" at the festival outside NRG Park Friday night, Scott continued to perform, although videos on social media show him pausing at different times to point out people who appeared to need help.

The Houston Fire Department said that a "mass casualty event" was officially declared at 9:38 p.m. Concertgoers say Scott continued performing, finishing his entire set at 10:15 p.m.

Scott maintains he had no idea about the severity of what was happening in the crowd.

He posted the next day on social media.

"My fans really mean the world to me. And I always just really want to leave them with a positive experience, and any time I can make out, you know, anything that's going on, you know I stop the show, you know, and help them get the help they need," Scott said in a video posted to his Instagram page.

When asked why the show wasn't stopped sooner, HPD Chief Troy Finner cited potential rioting "when you have a group that's young" in a crowd of roughly 50,000 people."

Turner echoed those comments Tuesday, expressing concern about how a crowd of that size would react.

"Well, I'm not gonna say they didn't do anything, but we're still gathering the facts on all of that. And you want to be very careful when you stop things when you've got 50,000 people that are there," Turner began. "And those in a certain area, they may know what's happening, but you got thousands and thousands that are crammed in, and they don't know what's happening. So if you just stop something abruptly, then you don't want to make the situation worse. So it's a sensitive situation."

Turner stressed that authorities are looking at video footage and talking to witnesses and Live Nation, the festival's promoter.

"Who was monitoring the crowd? What was their responsibility? Where were they positioned? The message board... were any messages given to the overall audience? All of those details are being looked at," Turner said.

The mayor told ABC13 that of all the things he has been through with the city, the festival is the one that has kept him up at night, in large part because it deals with children.

Turner said the event was a county facility contract between Live Nation and NRG, but added that it didn't matter if it occurred in the city or county.

If future events happen in Houston, he and his team need to be at the table from the beginning to decide if an event is safe for the city, Turner said.

In an interview later Tuesday with ABC News' Marcus Moore, the mayor didn't directly speak to the future of Scott's shows in the city.

WATCH: Mayor mum on future of Travis Scott shows in Houston

Turner said that he had reached out to the families, and some are understandably angry. He explained the city is doing all they can to assist, but understands that all the families want is their loved one back and that's something the city can't give.

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